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Review: NewerTech miniStack V2
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devo
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Ministack v2's arrived today Reply with quote

desrod wrote:


They both arrived dead... sigh.


Bummer man! Sad

Man, I wouldn't pay for the shipping back if the were DOA. Get back on that phone and bitch some more. By the way, did the adapters spark or anything when you plugged them in?
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desrod
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope, no spark... I may see if they can foot the bill for the shipping on the return.. no reason I should be paying for this at all.

But something strikes me as odd. It has some sort of "smart switch" that turns the box on and off if it detects it being plugged into a MacMini. I wonder if that switch is "confused".

I don't have a MacMini, nor do I have any sort of Mac that will be used with these devices (I do have an old G3, but it lacks Firewire, and its usb port is 1.1 at best, not usb2.x)
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desrod
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, after some serious debugging, I've figured out the "problem" with the Ministack:

You can't use it unless its connected to a powered usb 2.x hub or port. It doesn't even power up the drives when connected to Firewire host ports. Bleh!

The IDE drive simply will not spin up in any other configuration. I tried usb1.x, powered usb1.x, usb 2.x and then powered usb2.x... before I realized this little "feature".

Even when AC is applied and the signal cable is not attached, it will not spin up the drive at all. Plugging in the signal cable for usb2.x to a powered usb hub is the only thing that powered both of these units up.

Here's the other catch: NONE of the ports on the device are powered. With that much power going through the device (AC + usb2.x power in my case), you'd think the USB or Firewire "hub" ports would be powered... they're not.

This means I can't attach self-powering devices to these ports, such as the mini 2.5" Firewire enclosure I have with an 80gb drive in it. This enclosure worked great on a G3 I had here that had Firewire support. I didn't need to provide AC to power the drive. In fact, that G3 was running <i>from</i> this 2.5" external firewire enclosure. MUCH faster than the internal IDE drive that was in the Mac itself.

The second problem are those fans. WOW Are they ever loud. When they come on, its like sticking a plastic straw in a spinning window box fan. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... the whole time. Almost sounds like there's a wire or a piece of plastic in the way or something that the fan blades are whirring past. I'm going to take them apart and see if I can find out what's causing it. Its now become the loudest thing in my office, by a long shot.

The third problem I've found, is that the AC adapter that connects to the Ministack end itself, is very loose on both units. Its got a lot of "wiggle-play" in there, even when fully inserted and snugged into place. I can move the plug probably 45-degrees in any direction from center, when they are fully engaged. The part connecting to the circuit board is solid and doesn't appear to move, but the plug-end itself has a lot of "give" to it, in all directions. I'd much rather see it as a barrel-style plug in the future. In fact, I may take it upon myself to change this out myself very soon.

Bummer, but at least both Ministacks are working now, albeit with a lot of extra cables to make them function properly.
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm kind of glad I bought a 1st Gen LaCie mini without a fan. It came with a 160GB hard drive $128 US. I know I'm missing ports etc. but it suits my needs.

The 160GB drive is big enough for my needs. I partitioned it into 2 - 80GB partitions. This works well for back-up purposes. I backed up a nice clean basic install onto partion 2. I also use this partition to back-up data files, MP3's, JPG's. Partition 1 is a clone of the mini's internal drive. If I feel like booting off of partition 1, away I go at 7200 RPM. You can hear the 7200 RPM drive at work, but it is fairly quiet. I'm very happy that it does not have a fan. One get's spoiled by the silence of the mini and it's 2.5" drive.
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NEMMRRC
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

desrod wrote:

Here's the other catch: NONE of the ports on the device are powered. With that much power going through the device (AC + usb2.x power in my case), you'd think the USB or Firewire "hub" ports would be powered... they're not.

Mmmmhh.

I have an original MiniStack and its USB hub provides power when my mini is shut down or even removed. I can double check.

Jaime
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Yvan256
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

desrod wrote:
Well, after some serious debugging, I've figured out the "problem" with the Ministack [...] Here's the other catch: NONE of the ports on the device are powered. With that much power going through the device (AC + usb2.x power in my case), you'd think the USB or Firewire "hub" ports would be powered... they're not.

This means I can't attach self-powering devices to these ports, such as the mini 2.5" Firewire enclosure I have with an 80gb drive in it.


I guess that explains why my external 2.5" FireWire drive won't work with my miniStack either.

I would've guessed that with that external power brick, the FireWire and USB ports would be powered! Mad
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desrod
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Yvan256"]
desrod wrote:
I would've guessed that with that external power brick, the FireWire and USB ports would be powered!


Does the Ministack work without the external power brick? I couldn't get it to do anything unless it was getting power from BOTH the usb2.x powered hub AND the AC adapter that plugs into the Ministack.

With just AC in the Ministack, the internal drive would not spin up. It would ONLY spin up when a powered usb connector was attached, externally, to the enclosure.

Its kind of funky how that works, actually. Maybe that "smart" switch isn't so smart after all.
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boatj
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:27 am    Post subject: Fan Noise Reply with quote

desrod wrote:
The second problem are those fans. WOW Are they ever loud. When they come on, its like sticking a plastic straw in a spinning window box fan. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... the whole time. Almost sounds like there's a wire or a piece of plastic in the way or something that the fan blades are whirring past.


I remember someone else saying their fans buzzed....something must be wrong.
With a cheap mic about a half inch over the middle of the MiniStack, I made this QT recording with the input levels all the way up.
You can hear the HD resonating within the Stack, hear some seek clicks, and the fan come on, then off.


(removed...too much spam)

The plastic enclosure doesn't do too well at containing noise.
The fan noise still bugs me, but then all I need to do is crank up the Beige G3 Laughing


Last edited by boatj on Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:55 am; edited 4 times in total
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Yvan256
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

desrod wrote:
Does the Ministack work without the external power brick? I couldn't get it to do anything unless it was getting power from BOTH the usb2.x powered hub AND the AC adapter that plugs into the Ministack.

With just AC in the Ministack, the internal drive would not spin up. It would ONLY spin up when a powered usb connector was attached, externally, to the enclosure.

Its kind of funky how that works, actually. Maybe that "smart" switch isn't so smart after all.


I wouldn't connect any data cable without having power cables connected first.
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desrod
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yvan256 wrote:
I wouldn't connect any data cable without having power cables connected first.
Here's an example:

Some USB hubs work with power, and also work without power. Without power, their ability to power certain devices is limited, but as a "dumb hub", it still works.

I was wondering if the Ministack could act as a "dumb enclosure", drawing power from the host device (usb2.x ports) to power the drive. I have a 2.5" enclosure that works this way. It powers the drive inside it through the voltate on the usb/firewire cable attached to it. It also has an AC port, which I've never had to use...

But if I try to connect this 2.5" enclosure to the ports on the Ministack, I need to power both the Ministack AND the external enclosure I plug into it.

My G3 self-powers this 2.5" enclosure, no external power needed. I wish the Ministack would behave the same way.

Oh well, one can dream I guess. Its not as capable as other enclosures, but it is small and spiffy-looking.
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NEMMRRC
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NEMMRRC wrote:
desrod wrote:

Here's the other catch: NONE of the ports on the device are powered. With that much power going through the device (AC + usb2.x power in my case), you'd think the USB or Firewire "hub" ports would be powered... they're not.

Mmmmhh.

I have an original MiniStack and its USB hub provides power when my mini is shut down or even removed. I can double check.

Jaime

I tested my original MiniStack. USB hub remains powered as long as the firewire connection is attached to the Mac mini (on or off). Disconnect the firewire and the USB hub shuts down.

I have my MiniStack for Firewire all the time and the power option is set to automatic.

Jaime
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jgerry
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got my ministack today. I was already using an external 160GB drive in a firewire enclosure for my main drive, I put the drive in, plugged everything up, and had no problems getting it to boot up.

I do have some issues, however. The 160GB Samsung drive I use was VERY hot, even in the old enclosure. I can't imgaine that it's getting any ventilation at all in this one -- there's just no room in there! Also, what's with the heat sink? It has 2 places to attach screws, which don't match with the direction the drive has to sit... Basically, my hard drive is just sitting in there, wedged in place between the heat sink (which, since the drive would radiate heat upwards, I can't understand how it does anything at all) and the plastic lid. Plus, the only place metal touches the heat sink is the edge where the screws would be attached under the drive... Shouldn't the heat sink be on top of the drive? Or can you jam the drive in there upside down maybe?? The lid gets pretty hot too, and that heat all goes straight up into my Mini.

There were no instructions in my packaging, and I can't find any on newertech's web site either. Maybe there's some useful info in there?
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castufari
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had some noise issues with the Venus enclosure I purchased at newegg. It's nice but vibrated a bit (my desk is old and not too flat). After a bit of engineering I put a tray behind the desk that the drive fits in. Keeps it out of site. You can see the Mini but not the drive.
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picaman
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

castufari wrote:
I had some noise issues with the Venus enclosure I purchased at newegg. It's nice but vibrated a bit (my desk is old and not too flat). After a bit of engineering I put a tray behind the desk that the drive fits in. Keeps it out of site. You can see the Mini but not the drive.


I have two of these--love them. The stick-on rubber feet you can buy at the hardware store work well for cutting down on vibration.

Smile

Jamie
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mportuesi
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

desrod wrote:

Here's the other catch: NONE of the ports on the device are powered. With that much power going through the device (AC + usb2.x power in my case), you'd think the USB or Firewire "hub" ports would be powered... they're not.



I just got a Ministack v2. It came with a power brick that plugs into the back of the ministack.

I charged my 3G iPod through Firewire plugged into the Ministack.

I also charged my iPod Shuffle through USB plugged into the Ministack.

My experience demonstrates the hub ports ARE powered on the Ministack.


I bought a Seagate 300 GB 7200 RPM drive separately and put it in the Ministack. With the Ministack as the boot drive, I get a huge performance boost on my Mini (PPC G4 1.42Mhz, with 4200 RPM internal drive). I had no problems with installation. The Ministack v2 is a really nice product.
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